What Two Young Prostitutes Taught Me About Opportunity

Medellin, Colombia.

Digital green trees are backlit behind me and natural plants decorate the exterior of the cafe. I have a view of a quiet backstreet. It’s near the public park where the prostitutes trawl at night.

A familiar looking white man just walked by. He’s about 60 years old, well dressed and he’s walking a rat shaped dog.

My memory jolts and now I remember exactly who he is.

A few nights ago he was sitting at the arepa stall on the main drag with his mate of similar age. Both of them had prostitutes with them and neither girl was much older than 18.

I watched on with sadness. These girls weren’t well-polished escorts. They ate their food like you’d eat your McDonalds after a night out on the booze. They were innocent kids and if they grew up in Australia, prostitution wouldn’t be necessary.

At the time, I felt an urge to transform into a modern day Richard Gere and fight the injustice. But it wasn’t my battle. And to disrupt this transaction would likely do more harm than good.

As a boy, my mum worked three jobs. She nursed my sick dad and raised four children. For a chunk of my life we were poor enough for church groups to knock on our door and offer us canned food. Living in Australia made three jobs available to my mum. And with her sacrifice and work ethic, I was awarded every opportunity to follow all of my ludicrous dreams.

But being poor in Australia isn’t like being poor in other countries around the world.

For the two young prostitutes — church charity, a good education and unlimited opportunities are no such luxury. Unfortunately, most of the choices that they’ll make will revolve around survival.

But for those of us lucky enough to be born into privilege, we have the opportunity to decide our own fate.

Are we seizing this luxury for all it’s worth and trying to make a difference or are we just going through the motions and surviving?